The German Hard Rock / Heavy Metal band AXXIS has been around since 1988 and has built up quite an extensive back catalogue since then. Furthermore, they’ve played enough gigs toget the name out, build a fanbase and so on. My first acquaintance with this band occured in 2006, when they released “Paradise In Flames”. To me, it had good songs, but overall didn’t make me a fan. The follow-up, “Doom Of Destiny” (2007), was better. And last, their 2009 release “Utopia” was an AXXIS album I really found worth checking out, which I also wrote in my review at the time. See here.
Before that album came out, however, I did get the chance to see these veterans live at work at Frostrock in January 2009 in Kuurne, Belgium. See my report here. Two years later, the band started its own label, Phonotraxx Publishing, with a first release being their live album “20 Years Of Axxis” (2011, 2CD and DVD). Now, since the 16th of May 2012, AXXIS released its 12th studio album. Well, no really, it’s a cover album: Disco songs and others given a more Rock feel/edge. What made the band decide to undertake this project? (from the press text) “We have often talked about the times in which we grew up and about which music we liked back then”, singer Bernhard Weiss says. “We have a lot of stunning memories to the discos, the music programs on TV as well as the coverbands that are living all this up till today. This all has been leading us to the question – why aren’t we doing something in pure 80es style? The more we have been talking, the more interesting the idea became to us.” Among the covers, there is work from YES and THE POLICE. “Both groups have been our idols back then”, Bernhard tells. “On the other hand we also recorded tracks that have been absolute evergreens and everyone was singing and playing them. Even if you don’t like some of the songs by heart, they influence you anyway when you get to hear them the whole day.”
So, an entire disc full of classic hits, originally performed by, for example, BONEY M, THE BEE GEES, THE POLICE, YES, KRAFTWERK, OPUS and many more. I know several of those songs, though with some I couldn’t always put a name to the title. In any case, or in most cases, giving a Pop(pish) song a Rock or Metal jacket usually turns out quite well, if not better. Even if AXXIS adds a great dose of melody to its music, I was hoping the covered stuff would (indeed) Rock! “Owner Of A Lonely Heart” already does have a rocking touch, so to speak. In the hands of AXXIS, it turned out quite well. I like the cowbell and keyboards here.
“Ma Baker” is a dancy Rocker where AXXIS did a good job, overall. The BEE GEES classic “Stayin Alive” is also well done, and perfect for Bernard’s high-pitched voice. “Roboter” is, as you can imagine, an electronic song with a robotic voice. A Rock guitar was added and regular drums, but the whole sounds quite monotonous. It’s also a very simple and linear song. BILLY IDOL’s is another typical 80′s Pop/Rock track, linear and simple. Good, but nothing fancy. PHIL COLLINS’s classic “Another Day In Paradise” is so famous to the point it can work on your nerves. It does with mine. AXXIS does a proper job, but Bernard’s voice shows its limits in a song like this. In addition, the drums sound like a mix of electronic ones and acoustic ones, a combination that doesn’t really work, in my opinion.
“Message In A Bottle” rocks! No complaints about this one, and the drums were given a pounding sound, which makes it all the more attractive. “Locomotive Breath” has a Bluesy feel with a good melodic input from the organ and keyboards (like game sounds). But, even if the original doesn’t ring a bell with me, the song never takes off, which is a shame. It seems to be stuck in a tub. “Life Is Life… Nana Na Nana”, something we all sang along many years ago. AXXIS’s version does rock, but the verses and bridge sound a bit weird because of that. The chorus is flawless.
“Somebody To Love” takes off instantly with a prominent Rock guitar and the organ in the back. And this is one of the tracks where AXXIS doesn’t succeed. It sounds cheesy, boring and dull. “Don’t Bring Me Down”, another song unknown to me, is a midtempo Rocksong with another role for the organ. Sounds similar to ROBERT PALMER’s “Addicted To Love” or SHANIA TWAIN’s “Man! I Feel Like A Woman”. In any case, another boring song, sorry. Ah, the “Titanic” hit “My Heart Will Go On”, a very recent (well, 1997, but still, it stands out from the Disco songs) song. Also played until you got fed up with it. Bernard’s voice does not fit here, but the music isn’t good either. In fact, if I may be so frank (though I do not question the band’s skills at all), it sounds like a funny gay version. Seriously, why did they record this? And last, but not least, the KISS classic “I Was Made For Loving You”. This song already is a rocker. The music is ok, but again Bernard’s voice fails to deliver, due to not being strong enough here.
So, there you have it, “reDISCOver(ed)” by AXXIS, Disco songs given a more modern impression, a more rocking feel here and there. Some renditions are good, others just not good enough. Also, the production is often too light, too polished, too plastic, too… fabricated, so to speak. It might have been fun, from the band’s perspective, to make this album, but the result just doesn’t cut it.
- Owner Of A Lonely Heart (YES)
- Ma Baker (BONEY M)
- Stayin Alive (BEE GEES)
- Roboter (KRAFTWERK)
- White Wedding (BILLY IDOL)
- Another Day In Paradise (PHIL COLLINS)
- Message In A Bottle (THE POLICE)
- Locomotive Breath (JETHRO TULL)
- Life Is Life (OPUS)
- Somebody To Love (GREAT SOCIETY / JEFFERSON AIRPLANE)
- Don’t Bring Me Down (ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA)
- My Heart Will Go On (CÉLINE DION)
- I Was Made For Loving You (KISS)
Bernhard Weiss – vocals
Marco Wriedt – guitars
Rob Schomaker – bass
Harry Öllers – keyboards
Dirk Brand – drums